Japan Alumni eNews (Vol.105)

Japan Alumni eNews Vol. 105 January 10th, 2018

Japan Alumni eNews Vol. 105

1. Life in Japan by Photo

Learn the life in Japan with photos posted by our readers! We look forward to your submissions of memorable photos of your experiences in Japan, including your student life, exposure to Japanese culture and history, travel, and more.

1 Photo title (15 words or less)
2 Name (katakana and alphabet)
3 Nationality
4 Name of your school in Japan

January of Japan

The theme of the January issue is photo introduces January of Japan.

Mochi pounding

Mochi pounding



Japanese traditional New Year’s dish

Japanese traditional New Year’s dish

Pine decoration

Pine decoration

2. Alumni News

Bringing you news and first-hand stories about international students!

News on International Students

NEWS1: The Number of International Students Finding Employment in Japan Hits Highest Ever in 2016

According to the press release of the Ministry of Justice, the number of international students who were permitted to change their visa in 2016 for the purpose of working at a Japanese company increased by 24.1% (3,778) to 19,435 from 15,157 in 2015. By country/territory, Nepal showed the biggest increase of 132.0% (to 1,167 from 503 in 2015), followed by Vietnam with 115.8% increase (to 2,488 from 1,153).

NEWS2: The Number of Foreign Nationals Participating in International Conferences Held in Japan Surpasses 200,000 in 2016

According to information by the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO), the number of international conferences held in Japan in 2016 increased by 9.6% to 3,121. Tokyo (23 wards) showed the biggest number of 574, followed by Fukuoka (383 conferences) and Kyoto (278 conferences). The total number of participants at international conferences in Japan increased by 5.3% to 1,861,000 people, including 214,000 non-Japanese nationals (22.3% up), it is the first time to exceed 200,000 people.

Introduction of Current International Students

Kongpitak Patcharapon

Name: Kongpitak Patcharapon
Nationality: Thai
University: Kanagawa University
Major: Engineering
Year: 4th year
Period of Stay in Japan: September 2012 to present
Japanese Proficiency Level: Japanese Language Proficiency Test N1

The reason I chose Japan for my study abroad experience was its cutting-edge technology and my desire to study a third language. I was also interested in Japanese culture and how the people in one of the developed countries in Asia live.

My first impression when I arrived in Japan was that the towns were clean, cool and comfortable, the food was delicious and transportation was convenient. I came in late September, so I felt that Japan was a cool and comfortable place to live. However, when the first summer came around, it was hotter and more humid than I was expecting, and I thought it might even be hotter than Thailand. Still, there are fireworks displays and delicious watermelons that you can only enjoy in the summer, so it’s really fun!

I belong to the Department of Material & Life Chemistry of the Faculty of Engineering at Kanagawa University. I’m a fourth-year student, so I go to the lab almost every day. I’m studying chiral nanostructured fibers and chirality transfer between organic and inorganic systems. My dream for the future is to have a job that I could be connected with Japan. I like the Japanese language and culture, so I want to be involved in something related to the country.

One thing that sticks out in my mind from my experiences in Japan is that when I first enrolled I didn’t have any friends or acquaintances. However, when I made my first Japanese friends, I realized how important friends are to a university student like myself. When we first met, I could still feel some distance between us, but as we went through both fun times and trouble together, the distance disappeared before I knew it. I’ll never forget how it felt when we all came to be friends. Even if I go back to Thailand, these friendships will continue.

My advice to my juniors studying abroad is that since you’ve gone through the trouble of coming to Japan to study, interact with Japanese people, go to various places and learn Japanese culture. Try things that you can only do in Japan. Experiencing even more of the best parts of Japan will help you in the future. You won’t regret it.

List of Japan Alumni Associations

Introduction of “Support for International Students Returning Home”

Shimane University Alumni Association - Sri Lanka Chapter

In December 2015, the inaugural ceremony for Shimane University Alumni Association-Sri Lanka Chapter was held in Kandy, which is the second largest city in Sri Lanka, and was attended by three officials from Shimane University including Dr. Yasunao Hattori, university president; Prof. Hiroaki Ishiga of the Interdisciplinary Graduate School of Science and Engineering; and Prof. Harumi Ao of the Center for International Exchanges. This alumni association was established through efforts led by graduates of Shimane University, who are now faculty members of the University of Peradeniya in Sri Lanka. This is the third international alumni association of Shimane University after ones established in Indonesia and Nepal.

At the ceremony, the Director of the Alumni Association, Prof. Pitawala of the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Peradeniya stated that he would like to actively contribute to the further development of Sri Lanka based on what he learned at Shimane University. Additionally, Dr. Hattori, President of Shimane University, expressed that he would like to take advantage of the establishment of the new alumni association and enhance the relationship between Sri Lanka and Shimane University.

Shimane University will continue working on further globalization by strengthening collaboration with alumni associations in various countries.

3. Academic News

Introduction of scholarships, grants, unique activities at particular universities, and more!

Introduction of Faculties/Graduate Schools

Here we introduce you to particular faculties and graduate schools at Japanese universities.

International Pacific University (IPU)

International Pacific University (IPU)

University Profile (As of November 6th 2017)
Name: International Pacific University (IPU)
Address: 721 Kannonji, Seto-cho, Higashi-ku, Okayama
Number of students: 2460 (Undergraduate)
International students: 299(Undergraduate)

1. Overview of University (History, Mission, etc.)

The university was founded in the spirit of "Education for challenge and creativity", with "Both educators and learners grow together" as the basis of its educational activities.

Since its establishment, IPU has concentrated on an earnest enthusiasm for drawing out the potential of students in all fields of education, and also, by having teaching staff closely and actively involved in issues confronted by students, has derived, grown and developed their abundant talents.

2. Overview and Characteristics of Distinctive Faculties and Departments

Our business management course attaches importance to "practical education" through business training, extramural learning and so on.
Students acquire abilities to play active roles in working place by participating in "Experience of problem projects", where students resolve local issues or business one while learning special knowledge and skills at the same time.

In our "business plan contest" among student teams, the fund of up to 3 million yen will be provided to the winners so that they can start actual business. At the first contest in 2016, a team of exchange students from Vietnam received the "Prize for Excellence".

3. Support for International Students (Accommodations Support and Tuition Reduction)

We introduce student dormitories directly managed by our university. It also puts efforts into a system of scholarships based on entrance examination results or levels obtained in Japanese certification examinations, so we hope that you make active use of it.

4. Other Support for International Students (Employment, International Exchange, etc.)

At IPU, a professional career counselor offers career information classes and consultation on job-hunting for international students. In these classes, we invite guest speakers who specialize in global career placement and in interviewing skills, such as business manners and expressions. We also invite company recruiters wishing to hire international students. We support job-hunting from the beginning to the end, which includes assistance on change of resident status. IPU, combined with great efforts made by our international students, has achieved a high record in job offers from companies.

As part of our efforts to encourage international exchanges, once a week we carry out events with municipal governments and local elementary schools. There are many students who play a role as learning supporters for non-Japanese children attending Japanese elementary schools. We wish to foster connections beyond the university with broad groups of people.

Information about Scholarships, Grants, Invitations, Prizes, etc.

Fuji Xerox Kobayashi Fund

Program name
Foreign Students Research Grant

1. Objective
Since our founding, Fuji Xerox has been engaged in activities under the basic philosophy of "contributing to foster understanding and harmony in human society through better communications." Based on this basic attitude and our understanding of the current situation, we see it as our mission to contribute to the development of human resources who aim to become industry leaders in their respective countries and regions, and to contribute to mutual understanding and goodwill. We achieve this through a fund that supports research on international understanding and its promotion as well as academic exchange. The fund was established to commemorate the achievements of the late Setsutaro Kobayashi, who was the first president of Fuji Xerox. The research grant offered by the fund supports the research activities of international students in Japan who are enrolled in doctoral programs.
It is our sincere hope that utilization of the grant program by as many researchers as possible will produce human resources who will support the Asia-Oceania region in the 21st century.

2. Overview of the Grant
The grant covers expenses related to conducting research and study activities (travel, lodging, reference material, etc.) in Japan or Asian/Oceanian countries/territories.

(1) Amount of grant and number of grantees
A maximum of 1.2 million yen per grant will be provided to around 32 grantees.
(Depending upon the results of the Grantee Screening Committee’s assessment, the actual amount for some grantees may be less than the originally requested amount.)

(2) Duration of grant
In principle, the duration of the grant shall be for one year from the date of the grant.

3. Qualifications for the Grant
(1) Research field
Grants shall be conferred for individual research in the field of Humanities or Social Sciences. Emphasis will be placed on themes that help deepen the researcher’s understanding and awareness of Japanese or Asian/Oceanian society and culture and further enhance international exchange among them in the future.

(2) Applicant eligibility
Applicants shall meet all of the following requirements on the date of both the application deadline (February 28th, 2018) and grant subsidization.

  • Students from Asian and Oceanian countries/territories studying in Japan
    Note: The Asian and Oceanian countries/territories referred to here are the following:
    East Asia: South Korea, China, Taiwan, Mongolia
    Southeast Asia: Indonesia, Cambodia, Singapore, Thailand, East Timor, the Philippines, Brunei, Vietnam, Malaysia, Myanmar, Laos
    South Asia: India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives
    Oceania: Australia, New Zealand, and the island countries in Oceania
  • Students enrolled in a doctoral program at a graduate school in Japan (excluding programs equivalent to a master’s program) or who have completed such a program but are still officially enrolled for the purpose of submitting dissertation. However, those who have already obtained a doctoral degree or who will have obtained one (informal decision) by the time the grants are conferred (end of July 2018) may not apply.
  • Students who can receive a recommendation letter from their supervising professor.

4. Application Procedure
(1) Application method
Click the URL for the application page under "5. Mailing address and contact information for application/inquiries" and complete the application procedure.
After completing the application procedure, mail the required documents by registered mail to the fund office by the deadline.
Check the documents required for the application in advance by visiting the URL under "5. Mailing address and contact information for application/inquiries."

(2) Application period
Thursday, January 4th 2018 to Wednesday, February 28th, 2018

5. Mailing address and contact information for application/inquiries
Fuji Xerox Co., Ltd. Setsutaro Kobayasahi Memorial Fund
9-7-3 Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo 107-0052
TEL: 03-6271-4368

Information about International Symposium

The 33rd International Symposium on the Okhotsk Sea & Polar Oceans

This symposium aims to promote industrial, economic, cultural and other development in the Okhotsk area and has been widely acclaimed both in Japan and internationally for the many research results that were presented at the 32nd symposium. Themes this time include the environment of the Okhotsk Sea and animals and marine products of the polar oceans as well as a workshop on application of arctic regional science in ice navigation.

Dates: Sunday, February 18th to Wednesday, February 21st, 2018
Location: Mombetsu Civic Center, Mombetsu Cultural Hall, Mombetsushiritsu Museum

Academic Societies

<Literature, Philosophy, Education, Psychology, Sociology, History>

<Law, Politics>

<Economics, Commercial Science, Management>




<Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmaceutical Sciences>

Japanese Language Tests

4.Business News

JASSO provides information about job-search for both current and graduate international students!

Job Hunting Event Information

The Program for Advancement of Foreign Human Resources is launched in 2015, as a collaborative effort of related government ministries and agencies, and other relevant organizations. The Program seeks to increase employment of international students in Japan, and hence increase the number of highly skilled international professionals in the future, following the recent trend in policy that includes the 2014 revision of “Japan Revitalization Strategy – Japan is Back” (approved by the Cabinet on June 24th, 2014). The ultimate aim is to vitalize the Japanese economy further and enhance Japan’s presence in the global economy.
Through seminars, events and other activities, the Program will strengthen the system of connecting international students and other foreign nationals looking for employment in Japan, with companies in Japan looking to recruit international employees.

Events for International Student

Useful Web Site for International Students

Job Hunting Report

Ryu Chou

Name: Ryu Chou
Nationality: Chinese
University in Japan: Kyoto University
Major: Sociology (Graduate School of Letters)
Period of study in Japan: October 2013 to March 2017
Name of Company: Panasonic Corporation
Japanese proficiency level: Japanese Language Proficiency Test N1

The reason I chose Japan as the destination for my studies was that I love Japan, and it was my dream to study abroad here. Ever since childhood, I have enjoyed Japanese anime, and once I got to junior high, I also became interested in Japanese music, movies, and culture, and wanted to try living in Japan. Another reason is the superior level of education in Japan. Kyoto University, for one, is among the highest ranking universities in the world. I definitely wanted to get an education at such a high-level university.

My job hunting activities were centered on getting a job with an appliance manufacturer. My dream was to spread products on the world stage that are useful to people’s lifestyles and will make them happy. I felt that my current employer was one with true possibilities of achieving that dream.

I’m currently in the Overseas Marketing at Panasonic. My job is to increase product sales by working with people inside and outside the company. On the advertising side, I’m also involved in work on in-store displays. Making many trips overseas, I find my job to be very challenging and rewarding. My dream for the future is to visit localities at as many countries and territories as possible, identify people’s needs and spread our various products. I hope to take up various challenges.

The first measure for my job hunting, which I considered effective, was preparing at least three key points for my self-introduction and at least three specific experiences that is relevant to the job. Next was giving at least three reasons for applying. Final step was practicing interviewing. I asked friends to help with pretend interviews or practiced by myself in front of a mirror. I also went to the school’s employment support center, did several mock interviews and got advice from them. I think that was effective, too.

My advice to students who are going to start job hunting is to "Do your best and leave the rest to Providence." First, you do your best. Make no hesitations in applying to as many companies you wish to work for but bear in mind that you are responsible for your actions and decisions. Next, leave the rest to Providence, because after that it’s a matter of compatibility. If your personality doesn’t mesh with the corporate culture, it may be difficult to have fun doing the job. For that reason, it may be a good idea to go to the actual workplace and see what the company and employees are like beforehand.

Job Hunting Information Article

Application Form

The application form called "entry sheet" is a document designed to help the company get a detailed grasp of the applicant’s characteristics. Submitting the application form is your formal application to take the company’s employment test. The format and questions on the application will vary depending on the company, but generally it will be a combination of basic information, such as your university and contact information, and essays.

Essays on the application will generally be on themes such as self-introduction, what you worked on as a student and your reason for applying, and have to be written under a certain number of words. Many companies will use these same themes, so you need to think about how to answer them in advance.

First, organize your thoughts on each theme and write them out. Among the key points when filling out the application form is using consistent suffixes (Japanese), avoiding the use of demonstratives, starting with your conclusion and writing in such a way that anyone can understand. Filling out the application form once will not be enough. Have a professor or native Japanese speaker proofread it, and if you submit it to a company but failed to be chosen, review it and make revisions. The more revisions you make, the closer it will be to perfection. The application form will also serve as the basis for what you will talk about at the interview in the next stage. The better your application form, the better you will do in your interview.

5. Visit Japan

Have you been travelling around Japan? In this section, we bring you information about sights, events, and foods from all over the country! The January edition looks at Kumamoto prefecture.

Kumamoto prefecture

Kumamoto Castle

  • Kumamoto Castle
Kumamoto Castle, known as one of the three great castles in Japan, is a landmark of Kumamoto. It was built over a period of seven years beginning in 1601 by a prominent samurai Kato Kiyomasa. The castle covers an area of 98 hectares and has a perimeter of 5.3 kilometers. The stone wall is a distinctive feature of Kumamoto Castle. The bottom has a gentle incline, while the higher you go the steeper it gets. It is called "musha-gaeshi" as it would keep out the enemy soldiers (musha) attempting to infiltrate the castle. Kumamoto Castle was heavily damaged by the earthquakes in 2016, including the collapse of the tower and stone wall. Restoration work is currently underway.

Nabegataki Falls
Courtesy of Kumamoto prefecture

  • Nabegataki Falls
This beautiful falls is located in the town of Oguni. With a width of about 20 meters and a drop of about 10 meters, it is small compared to others, however it is unusual in that you can also go behind it. Additionally, the delicate fall of water has the appearance of a curtain, hence earning the name "water curtain." Because of its beauty, it gained popularity by word of mouth and was later used in a television commercial, which made it famous all over Japan. In the spring, the falls is lit up from behind in a limited-time-only show.

Basashi (horse meat sashimi)
Courtesy of Kumamoto prefecture

  • Basashi (horse meat sashimi)
Horse meat, with lower calories and less fat than beef and pork but high in protein and low in cholesterol, has garnered attention as a healthy food. It is also seasonal, being available from September to November. Horses pack on fat for the winter, so the meat is most delicious during this time. The most popular way to eat it is as "basashi." Fresh horse meat is readily available in Kumamoto, so much basashi is eaten here.

Obake no Kinta
Courtesy of Kumamoto prefecture

  • Obake no Kinta
This is a popular folk toy in Kumamoto with a red face and black hat. When you pull the string, the eyes roll and the tongue sticks out to make a funny face.
When Kato Kiyomasa was building Kumamoto Castle, there was a foot soldier named Kinta. He was said to have a funny face and good at making people laugh, so he was called "funny Kinta" and became popular. The toy originates from a mechanical doll created by a doll-maker named Nishijinya Hikoshichi based on the legend of Kinta.

Anagawa Yokagura

  • Anagawa Yokagura
This traditional dance of worship is performed at Anagawa Sugawara Shrine. With a history of 300 years, it is designated an intangible cultural property of Kikuchi City. Kagura consists of 10 scenes; in the final scene, the "gohei" (wand with hemp and paper streamers) held by the "kijin" (fierce god) in its last dance is said to ensure sound health in the coming year. The person snatching the gohei is celebrated as a brave individual.

6. NIPPON Information

This section features enjoyable stories about pop culture, traditions, dining, cutting-edge technology, and more!

NIPPON Time Machine

Nanakusa Gayu

January 7 is the customary day to eat "nanakusa gayu" (rice gruel containing the seven plants of spring) that morning. The custom is said to have come from China.
Nanakusa gayu used to be made with grains such as rice, wheat, Japanese millet and German millet. Eating rice gruel containing these ingredients aimed at praying for an abundant harvest, however as time passed, the contents switched from grains to herbs and vegetables (dropwort, shepherd’s purse, Jersey cudweed, chickweed, henbit, turnip and daikon).
Today, the custom is a wish for good health through the year. Taking in nutrients from greens in winter helps the stomach to rest after the large meals of the New Year.

Lifestyle Information

Goyohajime (reopening of business after the New Year holidays)

Government offices reopen on January 4 after the New Year holidays, known as "goyohajime", one of various resumptions of work, tilling, sales, shipping and firefighting. Together with banks, post offices and the stock market, many private businesses resume operations on this day. The custom of wearing kimono especially by women on the first working day has been observed until the end of Showa period, however recently has become rare.
Department stores and other retailers also used to have their first business day of the year on January 4th, however recently some have begun opening on January 2nd. There are other companies that work right up until December 30th and then take a longer break in the New Year.

Magazines and Brochures from Japanese Government

Providing public relations materials regarding Japan including culture and sport.

7. JASSO News

Information about JASSO Scholarship programs, invitation program, Study in Japan Fairs, and the Examination for Japanese University Admission for International Students (EJU).

Schedule, etc. for 2017 Study in Japan Fairs

JASSO holds Study in Japan Fairs overseas to provide information to high school students, university students and other individuals who are interested in studying in Japan. We also attend and cooperate to the events and seminars sponsored by other organizations.

Information about the “Student Guide to Japan”

For all those considering studying in Japan, we recommend you to read the “Student Guide to Japan” first.
In addition to information on the Japanese education system, scholarships, and daily life in Japan, the guidebook also includes stories on experience of international students in Japan.
You can read the guidebook on the JASSO website, so we encourage not only those who are considering studying in Japan, but also students already studying in Japan to take a look.

You can read in 14 languages such as Japanese, English, Chinese (Simplified Chinese and traditional Chinese), Korean, Indonesian, Thai, Vietnamese, Myanmar language and Bengali, Spanish, Russian, Arabic, French, German, Mongolian, and Portuguese.

Official Facebook Pages of JASSO and Overseas Representative Offices

We also provide the latest information on studying in Japan on our official Facebook pages. Check them out!

Examination for Japanese University Admission for International Students (EJU)

JASSO Scholarship Programs

Web Magazine “Ryugakukoryu”

The January 2018 issue will be published on January 10th. Please make sure to read it!

Follow-up Research Fellowship (Invitation Program)

This program provides former international students who play active roles in education, research and government in their home countries to conduct short term research at universities in Japan.

Follow-up Research Guidance (Dispatching Research Advisors)

This program provides Japanese academic advisors with an opportunity to visit and to help further research of former international students who are teaching and/or researching at universities or research institutes in their home countries.

8. From the Editor

How did you find the January edition of Japan Alumni eNews?
The New Year has begun. According to the Japanese calendar, January 20 is "daikan," the coldest part of the year. This is also the time of year that people begin making food for the cold weather (agar, sake, miso, etc.).
In this month’s NIPPON Time Machine, we cover "nanakusa gayu" and "goyohajime," two New Year’s traditions. What will you be doing in the New Year?

Japan Alumni eNews Editorial Desk is looking for someone who can share their job searching experiences. We also welcome pictures from your life abroad as an exchange student and your comments for our email magazine. Our next issue of “Japan Alumni eNews” will be distributed on February 9th. Don’t miss it!

  • Information in this issue may change without notice. Please visit their web sites for latest information.
Follow-up Services Unit, International Scholarship Division, Student Exchange Department Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO)
  • Address 2-2-1 Aomi, Koto-ku, Tokyo 135-8630 JAPAN
  • TEL +81-3-5520-6030
  • FAX +81-3-5520-6031
  • E-mail alumni-newsletter at mark jasso.go.jp
  • Please convert "at mark" to @ when you send an e-mail to us.